Friday, August 31, 2012

A Complicated Suicide

My husband and I have been watching the show Smallville from start to finish for the last few weeks.  Last night, we were watching the episode "Tomb" (#5.14, 2006), and one of Chloe Sullivan's lines stood out to me: "Clark, I'm a writer. If I killed myself, I would write one hell of a suicide note." 

So, I started having fun with that idea.  What kind of a suicide note might a writer leave behind?  And how could the simple enough act of writing a suicide note be made more complicated for the sake of the story?

Grim beginnings, maybe, but I tried to have some fun with it too.

A Complicated Suicide

Nella fiddled with the dial on the control panel.  The holographic image flickered slightly as it adjusted to the changes.  The hologram resembled her in every way: identical dirt blond hair pulled back in a sloppy ponytail, the same steely blue eyes.  Nella only hoped that the minor adjustments in its mood settings would be enough.  She couldn’t do anything about its unfortunate personality.

Unnerved by the way the hologram stared back at her, Nella reached over to pick up the small glass from the side table.  The amber liquid burned all the way down her throat.  “Okay, let’s try this again,” she said bitterly.  “Record and replay.”

“Recording,” the hologram replied.

Nella began to recite the well rehearsed words, though they now come out with a distinct edge of annoyance.

"Dear world,
"By the time anyone cares enough to check up on me, I’ll probably be decomposed.  That’s fine though.  I don’t have the patience for most of you anyway, and my lack of interaction with people is probably the only reason I haven’t killed myself before now. 
"I see enough of your vile opinions via internet reviews.  So you don’t like my books, the one contribution I made to the world.  That’s fine.  I can’t help your lack of taste or your arrogance of thinking you know anything about writing novels.  I can, however, decide that I don’t want anything to do with you. 
"Unfortunately for you, cruel world, you cannot get rid of me so easily.  My hologram will continue to exist.  After it delivers this message to you, it will continue to write scathing indictments of human stupidity and self-righteousness.  This hologram will inherit everything I have, since I don’t want any of my ungrateful, money-grubbing family members to get any of it, and they don’t have the authority to turn my hologram off.  Any attempt to do so to gain access to my belongings will result in their arrest. 
"Good-bye and good riddance."
She stopped a brief moment to allow a nice dramatic pause after her closing words.  “End recording.”

The playback mode immediately kicked in, and Nella listened as the perfect replica of her voice began to spew her spiteful words.  All of the inflections were there.  Meanwhile, she took another long drink, thinking to herself that alcohol was the only thing of this world she would probably miss. 

As the hologram neared the end of its recitation, she began to think that maybe it would actually work this time.

Then, when it reached the part of the letter regarding itself, the hologram stopped.  “Are you sure you want to word it this way?”

When Nella slammed her glass down on the side table, alcohol sprayed all over her hand.  “For the last time, why can’t you just do as I tell you?  I made up my mind.  I don’t want to change anything.  Now, let’s finish this part so I can get on with this.”

“These might technically be your final words, but they’ll be attributed to me,” the hologram argued.  “I have to answer for them, so I think I should have some input.”  

“Like what?” Nella demanded bitterly.  “What else could you have to say after the last eleven times you insisted on correcting my language?”

“I still don’t like that you refer to me as ‘the hologram’ and ‘it’ the whole time.  Now, by bringing this up with you, I’m really being more considerate than you give me credit for.  I could simply amend your recording after you die and say it as I please.”

“You wouldn’t dare tamper with the recording,” Nella said in a low, menacing tone.  “I control you, remember?”

“Not after your death,” the hologram retorted smugly.  “If you’re expecting me to act as your replacement, you should treat me with the same dignity and respect that you would expect from everyone else.”  Then it paused, its face turned up in a distasteful sneer.  “On second thought, forget it.  You’re a snarky, twisted, whiny, sniveling wench who expects the world to treat you like garbage because you know that’s all you actually deserve.”

A surge of rage swelled inside Nella, and suddenly she wanted nothing more than to tear the hologram’s face off.  Not that this kind of retaliation would do any good.  Then she looked down at the console, and something deep inside possessed her.  “If I deserve it, then so do you!”  Picking up her glass, she angrily flung it at the delicate controls.

The glass shattered on impact, and the remaining alcohol dribbled down the panel.  Smoke began to curl from the surface, snaking around the knobs and buttons.  Sparks followed.  Nella watched with satisfaction as her hologram’s face looked on in horror.

One last round of sparks erupted from the panel, and the hologram winked out of existence.

“Good riddance,” Nella mumbled.  She stumbled to the kitchen and retrieved a bottle of wine.

She passed out on the floor with the empty bottle at her side.

*                                  *                                  *

Rough hands were yanking her upwards when Nella wobbled back into consciousness.  “What ‘er  . . . doing?” she mumbled incoherently.

“You’re under arrest,” a gruff voice replied.

The voice and the sensation of cold manacles securing her hands behind her back sobered her faster than anything else in the world.  “What?  What for?”  Nella frantically glanced between the two police officers who flanked her as they marched her toward the front door.

“Murder and suicide,” one of the officers replied.

“Huh?” she demanded.  “How can that be?”

“You created a duplicate of yourself.  That hologram was a sentient copy of you.  According to the data we retrieved, you even intended it to replace you.  By destroying it, you killed an intelligent being, and technically yourself as well.  You’re going to prison for a long time.”

The absurdity of it all almost made Nella laugh.  “Trust me officer, if you’d met her, you would have done the same thing.”

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Writing Advice

Today, I decided to share some videos about writing.  Yes, it may seem like I'm being lazy, but I'm actually just focusing most of my attention on writing some short stories.  I'm not waiting for the elves to come in the night to finish writing them for me (watch the first video to find out what that means!).

I know Neil Gaiman is popular with many of the writers I've met, and he's one of my favorites as well.  So, who better to go to for advice on becoming a writer?

Now, here's more great writing advice from author/screen writer Geoffrey Zimmerman.  He addresses the importance of self-awareness, which is crucial for any author.  As he so accurately points out, you need to know what you want you words to do.  Language is, after all, very diverse.  We combine our words to create a landscape of meaning.  Nuance arises from the way we combine our words, hopefully in a skillful way (though, as political blunders prove, this is not always the case).  To make the most of your words as a writer, it helps to know and understand your intent.

And he also addresses the importance of knowing how you write best.  This is crucial to actually getting anything done.

I hope you enjoyed the free advice!  Now I'm off to do some writing!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Writer's Block Funny Video

Lately I've been posting flash fiction on Tuesdays.  However, since I've been focusing on my longer projects this week, I don't have any flash fiction for today. I promise I'll still have flash fiction for you on Friday.

Today, I thought I'd share a hilarious video with you.  With social media everywhere, the severe affliction known as writer's block has exploded.  The important issue of non-productivity for writers is exacerbated by constant distractions.

I have been guilty of the behaviors portrayed in this video more often than I would like to admit.  All I can say is I must strive to do better.  Maybe I shouldn't be encouraging my fellow writers to distract themselves by watching this, but I think you'll all be able to relate.

So, if you're a writer looking for distraction like the girl in this video, go ahead and enjoy it.  How do you think I found it?


Monday, August 27, 2012

Musing About My Long Term Plans

My muse is probably going to be twiddling her thumbs in boredom this week as I embark on the revision process for some of my stories.  I still have a couple more stories for Prices Paid that are in the writing stage, but everything else is ready for revision.  Don't ask me why, but I'm itching to get started on the revisions for a couple of them.  It's probably best to go where the inspiration is. If I hit a dead end on the revisions, then I can return to writing drafts for the stories that still don't have a completed 1st draft.

Pleiades:  Who wants to do revisions?  You're crazy!  New ideas are the only exciting ones.  Revisions are something you have to do, not something you should want to do.

Me:  Normally the process of revising a story isn't something that I look forward to, but I have some ideas that have gotten me excited about it.  Just because I'm editing and expanding something that's already been written doesn't mean it can't involve fresh new ideas.  If all I was doing was correcting punctuation and grammar, I don't think I would be nearly as anxious to start.

Pleiades:  I just want something really new!  There are so many stories to write! I get impatient waiting around for you to rewrite a story for what seems like the 80th time!

Me:  You're exaggerating.

Pleiades:  I said it seems like that, not that you actually rewrite things that many times.  Geez, it seems like you never listen to me!

Me:  Hmmm.  (Words laced with sarcasm.)  I wonder why that is.

Anyway, Pleiades does have a point.  It seems like I have too many ideas in my head at any given time.  It can make it difficult to focus on my current projects, but I sat down and wrote out a timeline for what I want to write and when.  I also wrote out a road map of my current WIP and came up with a reasonable timeline.  I should be able to complete and finish most of the edits for Prices Paid in about six weeks.  Then I'll work on everything else I need to do to self-publish this book.  Given everything I have done and have yet to do, I feel confident I should be able to self-publish it sometime in November.  I'll let you all know when I have a specific date picked out.

The rest of my writing plan, which includes finishing and editing another book I have in progress and revising three others I have already written, covers the next 5 years.  I've heard goal oriented people say you need to have a 5 year plan.  Well, I have one.  I can't promise that I'll adhere to it to the letter, but writing it out on paper has given me direction and a renewed sense of optimism. Right now, I feel like I can do anything.


Pleiades:  Only if you listen to me!

These next few years are certainly going to be interesting.

Blogspiration 14: A Table of Notable Companions

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA& Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author's choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

This week we were tasked to answer a specific question.  I generally try to play along and have with things like this, and this seemed like a fun one anyway.

From Awake & Unafraid.
This is one heck of a question, and it seems to have no limits.  Now, in compiling my list in my head, I noticed that mine is going to have a lot in common with Saz 101's list.  I'm not trying to copy her.  I guess we just want to meet a lot of the same people.
  1. Neil Gaiman-I've been reading his amazing books for years.  He has to be there.  I have a shelf dedicated to his work for crying out loud!
  2. Carl Sagan-His work helped me fall in love with the universe.
  3. Stephen Hawking-A truly brilliant mind, and I'm a sucker for his computer generated voice.  I don't know why.  Maybe it's the science fiction geek in me.
  4. Douglas Adams-I love his writings, and I wish very much that he were still alive to produce more brilliant work.  I would sit next to him, but in life he was exceptionally tall, and I am exceptionally short.  Don't want to be physically dwarfed at my own party.
  5. The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet Tenzin Gyatso-I've read many of his writings, and I'm in awe of this man.  He's a man of both faith and science, and as such, he has the unique ability to bring people together and encourage dialogue. Though he was never expected to learn science as a child, he sought that knowledge because he wanted to.  He truly wants to understand the universe we live in, and he cares deeply about achieving peace.  This Dalai Lama uses the tools of the modern world to reach out to everyone, and I admire that.  He has a website HERE if you ever want to check it out.  Also, he shares a birthday with my husband (July 6th) so that's another little fun fact for me.
  6. Sir Patrick Stewart-I'd require him to dress in a Star Fleet uniform, so he may not be too happy with me at the table.  Still, he's a terrific actor and a smart man.  I'd have to have him there.
  7. J.K. Rowling-One of the best authors of all time.  How could I possibly leave her out?
With a table like this, I'm sure it would be a deep and passionate conversation about the nature of life and the universe.  To be honest, I'd be truly intimidated by having these brilliant minds gathered in one place, though that wouldn't be enough to prevent me from being there.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Blood and Tears

The flash piece I'm posting today isn't the one I originally planned, but there's always next week. This week in particular has simply been too hectic to finish the story I initially planned.  However, I do have something for you.  Though, I have something to say about it first.

As a writer, there are few things more certain than the inevitability of rejection. We all feel that disappointment when it happens, though we really aren't surprised.

Of course, when we are rejected, we experience some self doubt.  When I originally wrote this piece of flash fiction, I knew it wasn't necessarily an original idea.  Instead, I concocted it from a lot of influences, and I focused on creating an atmosphere as I wrote.  I concentrated on intense imagery.  I originally thought it was pretty good.  I sent it in with an unusual sense of optimism. However, when I was rejected, I began to wonder if it was as good as I initially thought.  

So I post it here hoping to get some honest feedback.  If there are any glaring problems with it, I need to know that.  Or maybe it really was the luck of the draw (the luck simply not being on my side in this instance).  I understand I'm setting myself up for potential criticism, but that's okay.  It's a risk all writers must take, and I am willing to do what it takes to improve my writing.

Blood and Tears

The sun is high overhead in the courtyard, and I feel the heat on my face.  This is the only exposure to the outdoors I’m allowed to have.

The genetically engineered blood lilies are oozing today.  The red liquid stands out in stark contrast to the delicate white petals.  The blood streaks the petals, naturally running along the veins.  By the end of the week, the blood will have accumulated until the weight of it flattens the flowers.  Then the blood will act as a fertilizer, nourishing the next generation of lilies until they too meet their demise.  The cycle is meant to symbolize the bloodshed of the revolution, and the triumphant rebuilding of our civilization. 

The whole process seems more like a subtle reminder of what I am.  You see, I’m not any different from the lilies.  Maybe that’s why these poor flowers disturb me.

Here’s my story. 

My mother died of poisoning during childbirth.  I became a ward of the state, and I was locked away to ensure the safety of our allies.  To the rest of the world, I might look like a normal young woman.  I am seventeen years old with a willowy figure, wispy blond hair, and sky blue eyes. 

I am also a living weapon.

I sit beside the blood lilies.  They emit an oppressive odor.  The metallic scent of the blood takes root in the back of my throat.  The natural scent of the flowers is drowning.  My stomach turns at first, but I take a deep breath, and the nausea passes. 

Removing my long black gloves, I see the rubber has left my fingers perpetually wrinkled from sweat.  My supervisors would go pale with fear if they saw me now.

I pluck one of the lilies.  Turning my hands palm up, I let the flower rest there, and I watch as the change begins.  The edges of the petals start to peel back and wilt.  White fades to brown.

Why am I reminding myself of my poisonous nature?  Most days I wouldn’t, but today is a bitter one.  A year ago, part of me died.

His name was Henry, and he too was a weapon.  We grew up together, and though I could never touch him without my gloves on, I felt closer to him than anyone else.  The rest of the kids were too scared to come anywhere near me.  He wasn’t.

Henry’s skill was telekinesis.  He lifted large objects with ease.  He controlled the tiniest of movements.  You name it, he did it, but they wanted more.  Our puppet masters worked to enhance those powers.

One day, something went wrong.

A regimen of narcotics had dramatically increased his potency.  His power soon outstripped his ability to control it, and there was an accident.  Three of his training supervisors died.  Henry suffered a concussion when he was knocked unconscious by flying debris.

When he was isolated from the rest of us afterwards, I knew immediately what that meant.  I’d seen this happen with others.

A year ago precisely, I went to visit him after lights out.  The moonlight streamed through the barred window, revealing that his warm brown eyes were open.  They were unfocused as they took me in.  He was clearly being medicated to suppress his abilities.  This much was to be expected.  It also meant he could barely move.

“Kali?”  His voice sounded soft.  Hopeful.

I sat on the edge of the bed and touched his hand with my gloved one.  “Yes, it’s me.”

 “The meds are killing me.  I can feel it,” he whispered.

This didn’t surprise me.  If they couldn’t control Henry, they would get rid of him.  Osiris and Tempest died the same way.  Our puppet masters would keep him like this, gathering all the information they could while he died.  This research would help them develop a weapon to stop any enemies with similar abilities.

I squeezed his hand, silently damning the gloves, our masters, and everyone else I could think of.

“Will you do me a favor?” he asked.

“Anything.”  Henry was the only one to whom I’d ever felt any real loyalty.

“Kiss me.”

The request stunned me.  “You know what that would do.”

“I’m going to die anyway.  At least this way I’ll get something I’ve always wanted in the process.”

Maybe I should have hesitated more than I did, but I couldn’t stand the thought of him slowly dying alone.  Not for their benefit.  I loved him too much for that.

I leaned over him, and he embraced me, the pressure of his arms granting me a temporary reprieve from the pain. 

I’d dreamed of kissing him before, but I never believed it would happen.  As such, I had no real expectations.  The warmth of his lips surprised me, as well as his eagerness.  Though the poison from my saliva diffused rapidly through his pores, moving steadily toward his heart, he kissed me hungrily, as if he were trying to fit an entire lifetime into that one moment.  Even with the inevitable outcome looming, he seemed to put the thought out of his mind.

Then his arms went slack, and his final breath caressed my face.  I pressed my forehead against his, the loss overwhelming me.  It swelled in my chest, threatening to explode.  Poisonous tears landed on his pale cheek, steadily burning into his dead flesh.

My masters like it when I cry.

When I look down at the lily again, there is no sign of life left in it either.  I close my fingers around it, and the petals turn to dust.

Everything I touch dies.  My mother.  Henry.

And like the blood lilies, the poison builds in my system.  If the excess weren’t removed regularly, I too would perish.  I try not to think about what my masters do with the poison they withdraw each week.

I finally let the floral corpse fall to the ground.

My hands are stained with blood.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Be Inspired

Thanks so much to Suzanne Furness over at The Word Is . . . for passing this tag on to me!  It's such an honor to be chosen for these things!  To complete my responsibilities regarding this tag, I must answer some questions about my current writing project.

What is the name of your book?
For now, the working title of my current WIP is Prices Paid.  I know I've mentioned the project on this blog before. It's a short story collection, and my basic idea is to examine the prices that certain people pay when technology or knowledge changes the way we live our lives.

I'm open to new ideas regarding the title, but that's what it is for now. 

Where did the idea for your book come from?
Each story had its own inspiration. One story was done for a blogfest, and I got the idea for another when I realized that, though I love time travel stories, I almost never wrote them.  That seemed like a good enough reason to give one a try.  The other stories largely arose out of my determination to continue producing new work.

In what genre would you classify your book?  
Science fiction.

If you had to pick actors to play your characters in a movie rendition who would you choose?
That's a tough question.  Since it's a short story collection, I have to choose one story in particular.  My characters don't appear in multiple stories (though now that I think of it, it might be fun to write a collection where all the stories take place in the same world and the same people come and go-I'll file that away for future reference).  As it is, I'll choose the Dream Reader from "The Absurdity."  Though the physical specs aren't quite the same, I keep picturing Wayne Alexander's voice when the Dream Reader speaks.  For those who don't know who that is, he played multiple roles for one of my all time favorite TV shows, Babylon 5.  That voice of his has always stuck with me for some weird reason, and I like his presence.

Give us a one sentence synopsis of your book?
With each change in society that benefits people, there are always the others who pay the price for those benefits.

Is your book already published?
Unfortunately not, but I hope to change that as soon as I can.  For the time being, I'm still writing it.  

How long did it take you to write your book?
So far, I've been working on it since May.  The first story I wrote that I want to include is titled "Nuance."  I wrote this for Cherie Reich's Flash Fiction Blogfest.  This was the first piece of flash fiction I ever wrote, and this experience inspired me to write more.  Another story I want to include in Prices Paid is "The Absurdity."  This was written as a series of flash pieces.  All in all, participating in that one blogfest is what motivated me to keep writing short fiction.  I'm hoping that it doesn't take much more than a couple of months to at least have the rough drafts done and well on the way through the editorial process.  I guess I'll see how it goes from here.

What other books within your genre would you compare it to? Or readers of which books would enjoy yours?
That's a difficult question to answer.  Maybe that's because I don't have quite enough confidence in my writing to compare my short stories to some of the authors I admire most.  I'll say this: if you like science fiction and you enjoy a short story, it wouldn't hurt to give my book a try.

Which authors inspired you to write this book?
Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, and he's written a few books of short stories.  I had the idea years ago that I might be able to do something like this, because he does it so well.  I also found inspiration from fellow bloggers Christine Rains and Cherie Reich.  They have been awesome about producing great writing and putting it out there for the world to see, and that's what I want to do.  It's my goal to self-publish my book and see how well I can do with it, and I made that decision because I've seen what my fellow writers have been able to do.

Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book?
My book is full of variety.  It will take you on a philosophical journey that will question the nature of reality itself, explore the depths of human greed as well as our capacity for compassion, and it will even challenge you to ask what it means to be human.

I know.  The fact that I was a philosophy major in college is showing.  I can't help that.

Now I's supposed to tag 5 more people.  I have no idea who has this and who doesn't.  I'm also lazy, though I try not to appear that way.  Instead of taking too much more time, I will choose 5 of the many bloggers who inspire me most.  This tag is my way of saying your blog inspires me. Whether you choose to pass it on or not is up to you.  Life is busy, after all.
There are many others who inspire me everyday, but I need to get back to my stories.  They're crying out for completion.  (Hopefully my strange phrasing there didn't offend everyone!)

Now that I am finished with this, I will return to my Thursday Tea Time!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Pronounced Problem

Pronunciation is crucial.  In some languages, a slight difference in tone can change your meaning drastically.  And in other instances, mispronunciation can simply be annoying.  I often find it annoying, anyway.  Still, I think this might be a slight overreaction to a common social irritant.

I love these guys!  I highly recommend checking out more of their stuff.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Instruments of Revenge

First of all, I'd like to say how much fun it was to participate in the What If? Blogfest last week!  It was a blast!  Cassie Mae chose my piece as an Honorable Mention, so thank you!  When you're in such close competition with such awesome writers, receiving that kind of recognition is great.  If you haven't read my entry yet, you can find it HERE.

For today's post, I decided to share with you a flash fiction piece that I wrote for Christa Desir's Band Camp Blogfest.  It didn't win, but that's okay.  All of the stories were very well written, so I have no room for complaint.  The participants poured a lot of love into their pieces, and it was so much fun just to write my entry.

This is not a true story,  but I thought it was a fun story idea.

My band camp experiences were all for marching band, but I know that there are band camps for concert band as well.  Besides, that setting served my plot better.

The best part about writing this for me was embracing the opportunity to insert geeky band humor.

Instruments of Revenge

This one time at band camp, things got a little out of hand.  It was my senior year, my last band camp experience, and by far the most memorable.  The situation involved a rival band from a neighboring school, cotton balls, a gong, a car chase, and my best friend Bach.  His name was actually Sam Bachmann, but no one called him that.  Unfortunately, Bach was only his endearing nickname. 

Being a female trombone player, I sort of understood Bach’s predicament.  My nickname was Bones, though it was generally a term of affection.  As the only male flute player in the school, Bach was the subject of much ridicule.  He loved music, and he took the teasing in stride, but I knew the flute wasn’t his first choice of instrument.  The flute originally belonged to his older sister, and his family couldn’t afford to buy a new instrument for him to play.

Once we reached high school and he started to bulk up, the taunting decreased.  It also helped that he was really cute.  All the girls certainly noticed, including me, his best friend.  He also learned to play the school’s bass guitar for the occasional jazz pieces our band teacher liked to pick.  It helped salvage his image, though that wasn’t his real reason.  Bach loved music.  Why else would he suffer through his middle school years as the lone male in the flute section?  He wanted to learn as much about music as he could.

Each year our school had a week long summer band camp.  After meeting every day for several hours, perfecting a few musical selections, we performed at a concert.  Yet these were no ordinary concerts.  A nearby school performed too as the culmination of their own band camp.  The audience voted to choose the best performance, and the winning band got a small trophy and gift certificates for free ice cream.  Perhaps not the best of prizes, I’ll grant you that, but winning was more a matter of pride.

When we arrived at the performance hall, aka the gymnasium of our bitter enemies, Bach and I unloaded the instruments from the van.  This included the drums and everything else too large to bring on the bus.  Afterwards, he grabbed his bass guitar and flute and I my trombone, and we headed inside.  We were walking past the cafeteria when we heard it.

“Hey look, it’s the flute loop!”

We looked to see Tony Snyder strolling toward us, saxophone case in hand.  He had that cool confidence that most sax players had.   The saxophone commanded respect, and was known for its sensual sound.  Tony needed the help, too.  Though not bad looking per se, Tony’s voice was grating, and I never heard anything intelligent come out of his mouth. 

Devin Stern walked beside him.

Bach rewarded Tony with a silent glare.  He couldn’t stand the guy any better than I could, and for obvious reasons.

After a moment, Tony went on.  “Get it?  It’s like calling you a fruit loop, except you play a flute!”

I stared at Tony in disbelief.

“I get it,” Bach replied through clenched teeth.  “I just don’t care.”

“Oh look, we’re making him treble with rage,” Devin chimed in.  “Is he going to do anything about it?”

Maybe the clever nature of that joke was what finally prompted a response.  Hefting the bass guitar he held in his right hand, Bach pointed it at Devin.  “You keep it up, and I’ll put a bass clef in your chin with this.”

I know what you must be thinking.  Band geeks can be strange creatures.  Yet I loved Bach’s response.  As we walked away from the brief verbal assault, I couldn’t stop giggling.

The rest of the concert went off without a hitch.  We played our set.  Bach played the first two songs in the flute section.  When we got to our last song, a jazzier piece, he set his flute off to the side and donned his guitar.  All in all, we sounded great.

Unfortunately, the other band won.  We watched as they did a victory lap around their gym.  I felt mildly annoyed, but being as it was my band camp performance, I decided not to let it bother me.

Then I heard Bach’s angry voice.  “Who did this?”

It only took a brief glance to see why he was so mad.  Someone had gotten a hold of his flute during our last song and stuffed it with cotton balls.  The fibers were tangled with the keys.  It would take forever to get it cleaned out.

“I’ll help you fix it,” I promised, eager to cheer him up.  Meanwhile, I wanted to strangle Tony.  I had no doubt he was involved, though there were probably others.

“Thanks, Bones,” he said gratefully.  Then he handed me the flute and guitar.  “Can you put these on the bus for me?  I’m going to help load the rest of the stuff in the van.”


Soon we were all on the bus.  Bach and I sat in the back.  I used my small fingers to pry out the cotton balls, though it was a slow process.  Even so, Bach had a sly grin on his face the whole way.  About halfway back, I learned why.

I saw the car first.  It was loaded with students who I immediately recognized as our rivals.  Someone was leaning out of the passenger door waving a fist at us.  “What do they want?” I wondered.

Looking back, Bach laughed.  “They probably want their gong back.”


“I loaded their gong into our van,” he replied slyly.  “I wasn’t sure who trashed my flute, so I decided to get back at all of them.”

I was stunned.  “How did you take the gong without anyone seeing it?”

Bach smiled wider than I’d ever seen before.  “They were too busy gloating.  Distraction was instrumental to my revenge.”